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Buyers Divide on Paris: Some Praise Season, Others Call It Lackluster

In one of the most divisive seasons in memory, retailers took distinctly opposing views of Paris Fashion Week: Some said sizzle, some said fizzle.

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Fink said fur, tailored jackets and slim-line skirts were elements in Paris that were synchronous with Milan, but done sexier and more “grown-up.”

“It was a good, not great, Paris season,” said Joan Kaner, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus. “What the season comes down to is items and the customers will mix the clothes to make their own statement. I loved YSL from beginning to end and Hermès was an excellent start for Gaultier. It was classic, with quality and just enough of a whimsical twist.”

Kaner also praised Chloé, Alexander McQueen, Ann Demeulemeester, Akris, Issey Miyake, Chanel, Celine and Dries Van Noten, who she said crystallized the Paris season by mixing an English eccentric/Bloomsbury style with collector pieces. “As for silhouettes — cropped or skinny pants, fur, interesting skirts with movement and wonderful belted coats are important trends,” she added.

Anna Garner, head of fashion at Selfridges, praised Paris for not being as ladylike as New York and Milan. “It was more eccentric and madcap,” she said. “The pencil skirt is a massive trend. Volumes in Paris were strong with skinny on top and larger on bottom, or vice versa. It was an individual season and very good.”

Scott Tepper, fashion director at Henri Bendel, said he came to Paris looking for wearability more than avant-garde styles, which is why he called Chloé a “smash hit, home run.” He also praised Lagerfeld Gallery for being “a wonderful counterpoint to all the rampant femininity overall this season. We increased our buy to accommodate his incredible white outerwear and ski-inspired looks.”

While downbeat on Paris, Bergdorf’s Burke allowed that there were highlights — and plenty to buy. “Lanvin was wonderful and elegant — but very modern — completely clear and very sophisticated. Valentino was outstanding. That customer is not wealthy, she’s rich and he really tapped into that in a spectacular and focused way,” he said. “Nina Ricci was restrained and elegant and Chloé was fun, fresh and feminine. Saint Laurent was a great show, because it was a perfect way to end in that it was Tom’s interpretation of YSL, not going backward but going forward.”
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